Showalter Draws on PMO Lessons

Lessons mastered as a Glee Club tenor are proving valuable to Max Showalter, a 2014 Purdue graduate now pursuing a Ph.D. in oceanography and astrobiology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

While music and his research may seem worlds apart, he says, “I learned in Glee Club to ‘adjust and move on’—a great motto to keep in your back pocket. As a Ph.D. student, I have experienced a lot of frustrating and demoralizing failures in my experiments. This mantra helps me figure out the problem, fix it and get on with the next step.”

He also taps his Glee Club lessons in time and project management and his performance skills.  “I feel comfortable presenting my academic work to large crowds because of my time singing with PMO.”

Above all, he expresses gratitude for the positive attitude imparted through PMO’s culture and the friends he made and still stays in touch with today.

At Purdue, where he earned a degree in biological engineering, Showalter says he was inspired and amazed by the diversity and ability of microbial life, prompting an interest in unknown microbial life in extreme environments and how they survive.

His research today focuses on how microbes survive and adapt in the extreme arctic environment. In the summer of 2016, he traveled to Palmer Station in Antarctica as part of a training program led by the National Science Foundation. Along with training skills, Showalter brought home stories of close encounters with penguins and seals. His favorites occurred while aboard the icebreaker Laurence M. Gould or in one of the smaller rubber crafts, called zodiacs.

Although his singing these days may be limited to alone time in the lab, Showalter values and uses his other PMO lessons.

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